Other States

Spike in virus cases dampens Bihu spirit

A spike in COVID-19 cases and strict guidelines issued by the Assam government has dampened the festive spirit ahead of Rongali or Bohag Bihu beginning Wednesday.

Officials of the Health and Family Welfare Department said 583 out of 1,02,182 people tested positive on Monday, taking the active cases count to 2,387. The positivity rate of 0.75% was “manageable”, but the spread of the cases has been a cause for concern.

More than 33% of the cases were detected in Kamrup (Metro) district, which mostly comprises Guwahati, where the major Bihu functions are organised.

The Bihu organisers are miffed with the standard operating procedures issued by the district authorities on April 9, asking them to obtain prior permission for the programmes, sanitise the venues twice and winding up the programmes by 11 p.m. Each member of a Bihu organising committee was also asked to undergo tests for COVID-19.

“A lot of investment goes into organising Bihu functions that have traditionally carried on well past midnight. After 2020 was lost to COVID-19 lockdown, people have been looking forward to enjoying Bihu this time, but the strict regulations have come in the way,” said Kailash Nath Sarma, advisor to the Brihattar Guwahati Bihu Sanmilani Sanammay Raksha Samiti, a coordination body of Bihu committees in the city.

Relaxation demands

He said that the festival organisers have protested demanding relaxation of the restrictions as well as assignment of volunteers by the district administration at Bihu sites for testing and sanitising.

Assam’s neighbours in the northeast too have geared up to prevent the spread of the new strain of the novel coronavirus. Meghalaya imposed night curfew from Sunday but has resisted deferring the high school and higher secondary school, leaving exams under the State Board from April 16.

D.P. Wahlang, the State’s Principal Secretary for Education, admitted many parents were wary of sending their wards to the examination centres. “But we need to take decisions that are locally relevant,” he said.

Mizoram, on the other hand, has not taken any chances although the number of active cases there is among the lowest. The State government has closed down schools for students in Classes up to 8.

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Printable version | May 17, 2021 12:05:39 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/spike-in-virus-cases-dampens-bihu-spirit/article34314333.ece

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